2018/04/06

[Blog] Unpopular things, the big picture and blog (in)activity

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I have  habit of telling unpopular things, such as telling warship fans that most warships are unnecessary, telling combat aviation fans that ground/ground missiles should be used more and air/ground attack is unreliable, or telling army fans that we actually have plenty land forces compared to the few threats, and the issue is rather in quality than in quantity or budgeting. I tell military-loving folks that all small and offensive wars are bollocks, war doesn't work and military spending should rather be slashed than increased.

It appears that I sought and found a niche that guarantees a failure in any attempt to reach a large audience; "unconventional" conclusions and opinions that hardly anyone shares among those people who frequent military blogs.

On top of that I mastered the skill of alienating many longtime readers by offering contradictions in comments or private correspondence.

Well, this isn't a commercial blog, so I got that one excuse at least.


Still, the obvious and seemingly unavoidable failure to bring much of a message across for want of a large audience is having an impact on my motivation. I've had my very motivating military theory-heavy times at the blog years ago, and hardware-centric writing was never particularly motivating.
Right now I don't have a single topic to write about on my mind that I didn't think of months or years ago already (and thus obviously delayed and avoided again and again).


The grand picture is one of government establishments and public opinion finally shifting back to collective defence from stupid wars of de facto occupation. This pivot won't be done in any economically or time-efficient way, but it's happening and I suppose it will suffice to deter any great power attack on NATO and EU members for at least a decade to come.

Turkey - a geostrategically very important country - is drifting away from the West and the Russians are back in the stupid great power game of messing up the Mid East, but this won't really change the daily lives of Europeans.

Comically inept and other psychologically compromised or simply authoritarian politicians pop up and disappear after a couple years or decades. We've seen that before as well.

Germany will sometime in my lifetime return to a government with an intention to reform the country to reduce well-known problems instead of being ruled by a coalition intent on almost nothing but maintaining its power and most other aspects of the status quo. 

NATO thought of itself as some liberal / free world alliance in the 90's, but now it's back to being a partially dirty and uncomfortable bloc as it already was in the 60's and 70's.

We Europeans shouldn't pay much attention to what happens in the Far East, except that all involved parties should think of us as readily available honest brokers should the need for one arise. The British appear to be somewhat tainted by the idea that they need to think of the PR China as a threat due to lacking a language barrier with the Americans and having strong links to the Australians,


Maybe sometime in a few decades I will be a grumpy old man who annoys people by pointing out that I was correct on certain conclusions all along (I would certainly not point out my mistakes - hardly anyone does, so why would I?).

So lange Rede, kurzer Sinn (long talk, little meaning): 

I intend to keep blogging, but I will likely write much less ever since 2009. I expect maybe 100-150 posts for this year, and lots of those will be low effort blog posts.
You have my promise that if I ever end blogging I will write a farewell if I still can, and not simply disappear as did all-too many mil bloggers that I more or less followed in the past decade.

S O
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11 comments:

  1. Thanks for the write-up. I am more of a history buff who only came across your log in early 2016 but I really enjoyed those "unpopular things" you write about. Probably because I think of war and foreign policy in a similiar way ;)

    Online communication and getting feedback for your work can be tricky. Over the years I have followed several authors that wrote on nieche topics I was interested in and pretty much all of them ended up in a similiar situation. Social media seems to offer some better solutions for building and interacting with a community but in a nieche topic like this your lack of miltech-porn might not be all that popular. But I can imagine that some of your material (how to fix type of stuff) could be pretty popular in a visual format on youtube.

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  2. You've reached the end of your theorys development. I wouldnt view that as a weakness. There is an optimal way to approach defence policy. Sweden during the cold war, maintaining neutrality, independance, keeping size and offering a credible problem to the Soviets. The royal navy, post Pepys, his reforms on countering corruption, spreading knowledge and best practice tied with a clear headed non traditional strategy to surpass the European naval powers not with firepower alone.

    As you note best practice doesnt involve large or deep considerations of hardware. 5.56 vs 7.62. T14 vs M1. GBI vs Satan. That is however where the eyes go, from the state of youtube its mostly children who consume content like that anyway, a phase soon passed and as you say intellecually a dead end.

    You have espoused your philosophy. Continuing at the same pace will just see you repeating yourself.

    Geo strategically we are at an inflection point. It could be said the US after Iraq2 is in a post Vietnam military malaise, but Russia is rising suggesting a return to a cold war. "The fall of the East was mistaken for the rise of the West." Trump is petulantly and childishly attempting to broach that issue as any other US leader would be, but China has no reason to engage in conflict they have the momentum they have the US debt, stolen military tech secrets, political robustness and optomism.

    My version of this has the US desperatly seeking to play their one last card before Chinas 2049 plan completes.

    I, like you, hope that Europe has the sense to stay out of this. Im scottish, so I also hope we are by then independant and back in the EU. The rUK will happily replay the Prince of Wales and Repulse and sail out to die alongside the US whenever they call.

    Ive done a similar thing to you. Talk alot with little content.

    If this is where you slow down, I think you have done an excellent job of developing a defensible philosphy on defence.

    I've pretty much read everything on here.

    Thank you for your work.

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    1. "Geo strategically we are at an inflection point."

      I agree with your statement but apparently for different reasons than you give.

      "It could be said the US after Iraq2 is in a post Vietnam military malaise, but Russia is rising suggesting a return to a cold war."

      The US is nowhere near a "post Vietnam military malaise," which is a very bad thing. It has reduced the troop count in Iraq and Afghanistan but has not pulled out of those countries. It believes that it has learned a new, better way to make war using technology and small unit strikes to wage essentially a war of assassination against people it believes could be terrorists but there are so many problems with this approach that it will be eventually self-defeating.

      The only two reasonable strategies for dealing with strong anti-US feelings in distant countries is to either culturally engage with them to change their opinion of the US without violence or to retreat and give the offended countries room to heal and grow without hatred for the US being one of its primary motivating forces.

      Russia is indeed playing the Great Game again but it is vastly weaker relative to other regional powers (China, Iran, Turkey, Eastern Europe, for example) and is facing massive long-term challenges due to low fertility and poor infrastructure that the proper strategy is one of mild containment until they have to stop due to internal problems (if nothing else, Putin can’t live forever).

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    2. The US both is and isnt near a "post Vietnam military malaise". Which causes a problem when trying to chart a single path forwards.

      The policy wonk community and leaders have essentially all agreed Iraq2 was a massive strategic mistake, interesting if you take Bin Ladens goal into account. The populations trust was destroyed. The military was refactored to fighting COIN. Its readieness was destroyed. A new batch of dependants, injuries, PTSD etc was created that will tax future budgets for decades. The region was destabalised in a way that can not be judged to be advantageous to the US empire, ongoing gold and blood will have to be spent on the now recognised pointless war.

      We done screwed up.

      As with post vietnam, this creates a crisis of confidence both within and without the military institutions.

      Interesting however, this happens at a time when we are entering a new cold war. So its confused. Overlapping. There are areas of coherent and destructive interference. "History doesnt repeat itself but sometimes it rhymes"

      Russia is weaker. Yes. The US is also weaker. Economically, monetarily, demographically, their infrastucture is also falling apart, their population is overdosing on opiods suicides and mass shootings, their political system is entirely stuck.

      If the US solves all of these problems tommorow through an act of god they would still not be able to match SE Asian growth.

      Your strategies for dealing with global anti US sentiment arent going to be listened to. Look at South America, we're going to witness another round of Banana wars, dissapearances and people cratering after being thrown out of helicopters. They subverted Brazil, threw Russof out and installed a temporary strong man. The US is going to return to its default strategy, empire. They think they can out red coat the red coats. They cant. The other side is they cant offer the carrot anymore both because they no longer have any carrot and even if they did their carrot cant compete with Chinas carrot.

      You're right this behaviour is self defeating but they dont see it, they think it is strength.

      Russia is Russia. Putin cant live forever, but dont think the strategy is Putins alone. As many Russia watchers say, compared to everyone else in the room Putin is a liberal. Demographics yes, but Russian adult population is going to increase for the next five years. A rise coming at the perfect time. Their medium term economic outlook isnt strong. So lets grab what we can now, yes? Maybe? It is a possibility, a discussion point, Putin wouldnt take it but as you say he isnt immortal.

      The threat of a 'hot' 'cold war' seems pointless as I cant see both sides avoiding nuclear weapons. The US is in a poor position with a poor outlook, Russia is in a poor position also with a poor outlook. Neither of their futures look like they are going to be able to match their expectations. Thats where it starts to get scary for Europe.

      Would Europe start a war to defend the Baltics? It should, and could hopefully quickly force a deescalation, but I dont know the answer to that question. Would Europe stand up to the US if they started a ground war with Iran or NOKO? Again I dont know if they would do the right thing.

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  3. If you were trying to alienate me, you should have tried a lot harder. :)

    Chris.

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  4. In case you get bored, we have two new rising powerhouses, India and China. It would be a longterm benefit to understand their point of view and how they want to shape the world. So far you did not cover India, which might not be interesting hardware wise, but as a human organization. Another topic military blogy neglect is communication security in peacetime. Obtaining knowledge seems to play an increasingly more important role in comparison to territorial changes that have stagnated for daecades ibn most of the world. Maybe we rethink conflict between political entities more as a contest for obtaining knowledge and translate it into advantages. This would mean that the whole plethora of ancient rituals such as a declaration of war are losing their value. The state of war and peace is no longer defined, but blurs.

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    1. http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2007/10/indias-cultural-power.html

      Neither the PRC nor India are threats, so neither are of interest to me unless they produce advances in warfare state of the art. Neither appears to be very active in this regard.

      http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2013/02/military-cryptology-one-tim-pads-and-my.html

      The state of war and peace has been blurred since prehistoric times. There was always raiding and there were always truces or breaks in campaigning.

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    2. PRC invests massively into computing systems and overtakes the rest of the world. These systems are likely to translate into computer aided designs of products to sell, military hardware and possibly cyberweapons. At least in the cyberdomain, I would count them as a potential direct threat.
      http://infographic.statista.com/normal/chartoftheday_8402_asian_middle_class_on_the_rise_n.jpg
      If you factor in the rise of the Asian Middle class, Europe and North America are becoming backwaters of decreasing economic importance and mapmakers already take note.
      https://i.pinimg.com/originals/27/9f/cb/279fcbd03d2d4fe1a5dbc10e32b69aaf.jpg
      Asia centered maps are on the rise, breaking with centuries of Euro-centric tradition. So even if there is no direct conflict and competition, there is a realignment of importance and economic power. The shift of German exports to these rising economies means that even squabbling between them can affect us and our livelyhoods, without ever being directly thretened. The gravity of such a situation will be increasingly severe, the less economic weight the systems of Europe and North America throw into the ring.

      I agree on the rise of Indian softpower, but what I meant was seeing perhaps more information on Indian types of organizations, including their internal and external security.

      The line between war and peace has always been blurred to some degree, but the new developments of data transport and deniability of involvement make it more possible today than in former times to launch raids on another economy and society without repercussions. That's not quite covered by one-time-pad encryption. To a degree suggested replies to this threat endanger civil liberties our countries are meant to protect. Outside the cybersphere, there seems to be a strong merger between police, intelligence and military in this "war on terror", which creates probably a very different outlook on conflicts and is equally dangerous to our traditional freedoms. Add the increasing networks of available cheap mercenaries to bolster such specialists and we have a dystopian reality that doesn't need to be limited to shithole countries post-invasion.

      An additional issue is the spread of strategic armaments, which will probably increase in the wake of the almost completion of the US invasion plans. Only Iran is left on the listfor the next US led liberation (Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Libya and Syria are close to finished as burning trainwrecks) and Turkey is increasingly rumoured to pursue a realization of a nuclear armament. It will be very difficult to keep the lid on Pandora's box in the future and neither are the size of te US stockpile nor their first use policy helpful in this regard.

      And thank you for the great service of writing this interesting blog.

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  5. I too have enjoyed your blog and found it very helpful for my evolving world view. I have embraced your opinion that my country’s military (and others) is far from an ideal for defending our freedoms and much to capable of offensive actions.

    I was a young American adult who sincerely believed that Iraq2 was morally justified and worth doing with the coalition of the willing. I grew up with a fascination for military hardware and a fierce belief in the ‘liberal’ ideas behind the US constitution.

    Now, older and more skeptical, I wish my government officials and influential persons would find a path of disentangling the US Military from Iraq. Also that the pre-invasion debate was terribly lacking in counting long term risk and costs. Not that Iraq of 2002 was an okay place, still room to argue for a ‘Just’ war. (Thomas Aquinas? just war theory)

    Thank you for putting so much thought to posting so much.


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  6. As a rightwing warmonger i have on several occasions alienated you (if i look on your reactions to my posts). But i had always tried to look on things from (very) different corners and to avoid echo chambers and to realy think through the opinions of completly different persons. Which brought me here and since years i had read every article and also showed many of them to others and discussed them (often hindered by my lack of english). What i often found astounding was, that you come to the exact same conclusions as i although we are from an complete different political and cultural agenda.

    In a longer peacetime always high quality military thinkers do not reach much people and even (or perhaps especially) in the militaries their thoughts are widely ignored which is an shame and an harm for the military power of an country.

    Therefore i can only salute your attitude, your hard work and especialy your idealism which is much more worth than the indifference, moral nihilism and relativism in everything which rules to much of the german society (and here we are again in a complete different worldview/reality). But do not be alienated:

    Your work is of meaning. And it is especially of meaning for at least some soldiers in the german armed forces, although we are not much.

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  7. I still enjoy your musings Sven, keep it going

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